Salt Lake City, UT, United States (4E) – A Utah elementary school has gotten parents’ ire after its cafeteria workers dumped the lunches of 40 students for having unpaid arrears with the school.
The incident happened at the Uintah Elementary School on Tuesday. It was a standard policy at Salt Lake City schools to withhold lunch of students for nonpayment of arrears, according to a former lunch worker.
Students whose parents are behind payments are identified through the point-of-sale computer, which flashes the student’s account status after the kid checked out or picked up the lunch tray. If the terminal reads that the student has a negative balance, the child nutrition manager takes the food back from the student and replaces it with fruit and milk.
Salt Lake City School District Jason Olsen said parents had been notified about negative balances on Monday and a child nutrition or kitchen manager was just following policy in withholding the lunches to deal with parents who owed the school money.
The lunches were thrown away because food served to a student can no longer be served to another, Olsen explained. But he said Thursday the incident was a mistake.
Faced with complaints from parents that their children were humiliated, the school district issued an apology to them. Uintah Principal Chelsea Malouf promised that the incident will not happen again, according to Salt Lake Tribune.
Meanwhile, Utah lawmakers who learned of the incident threatned action. State Sen. Todd Weiler (R-Woods Cross), who visited Uintah together with Sen. Jim Dabakis (D-Salt Lake City) on Thursday, said someone should be fired for what he called “bullying” of the kids.